INDIANAPOLIS — The signature of Gov. Eric Holcomb is the only thing still needed before Hoosiers legally can purchase — on Sundays — beer, wine or liquor for at-home consumption.
The Republican chief executive is expected to affix his John Hancock to Senate Enrolled Act 1 sometime next week, which would make March 4 the first Sunday in the state's 201-year history with officially permitted retail alcohol sales.
On Thursday, the Indiana Senate voted 38-10 to advance the legislation, co-sponsored by state Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago, to the governor's desk.
A second Senate vote was required because the House substituted an immediate effective date for the traditional July 1 start for new Indiana laws.
The proposal last week passed the House, 82-10.
State Sen. Ron Alting, R-Lafayette, who led the push for Sunday sales, declared after the Senate roll call: "History was made today in Indiana."
Unlike prior years when Sunday sales proposals went down in flames, Alting credited this year's success to alcohol retailers coming to a consensus in favor of Sunday sales, and the courtesy of other lawmakers to not insert extraneous alcohol issues into the measure.
"When you're dealing with something as fragile as alcohol laws, you're much better keeping it very simple, keeping it very focused on a particular area and don't 'Christmas tree' it in order to get it through," Alting said.
A "Christmas tree" is a Statehouse term used to describe controversial legislation, typically alcohol, gaming or tax matters, on which the sponsor allows other lawmakers to attach their favored proposals, similar to ornaments, in the hope of putting a plan together that a majority has an interest in seeing become law.
Alting now plans to begin working on House Bill 1419, a classic Christmas tree proposal, that he said contains 48 separate alcohol-related issues.